Whether or not to gate content is a hot topic. One day, one of our clients said, “We are going to limit, if not eliminate forms from our website. It doesn’t make sense to put up barriers between our customers and the information they need to make decisions.”
This client was right. Just 5 percent of B2B buyers said that they are willing to provide detailed information to gain access to your white paper or eBook, for example. The point: a lot of people are walking away from your content if you put it behind a gate. If your customers and prospects are coming to your website and looking at your content, why put barriers up in front of that content? Why not let them have free, easy access and get key information about them in a different way?
That just begs one question: how CAN we get that key information without forms so that we can engage with that customer or prospect more effectively?
Hello, Inference Marketing
The information you need about your prospects and customers to make smart marketing decisions exists out there, and you shouldn’t have to gate content to get it. What it does require is some planning and research to infer, based on alternate data sources, who your customers are—hence the term inference marketing.
Here’s how inference marketing works:
1. Build your ideal customer profile.
(If you need help with this piece, check out this white paper that outlines the steps). Basically, you want to make sure you are collecting the right data points to meet your specific marketing objectives—you don’t want to spend time and money collecting data that doesn’t matter to your goals. Most customer profiles should consist of a variety of data points from four general categories of attributes, such as these examples:
- Core: title, location, demographics, firmographics
- Extended: installed base, wallet size
- Behavioral: sites visited, content consumed, campaigns responded to
- Social: sentiment, interest, intent, influence
2. Figure out who is visiting your site.
Infer who your website visitor is through data you have without a form: account data from IP address, on-site behavior, etc. Use this data to fill out the appropriate pieces of your ideal profile at either the account or contact level (within privacy standards). In addition to the well-known web analytics platforms, Profound Networks, Lead Forensics, and DemandBase offer solutions in this area.
3. Leverage web and social data from source providers.
Matching this data to contact or account files can add fresher and richer data to the profile. Well known providers of digital and social data include Leadspace, DataSift, FullContact and Gnip. Before using this data, it’s important to check on how it is collected and whether the method of collection and use meets the privacy standards set by your company. You can also obtain information on content consumption through companies such as Madison Logic. The company tracks and reports content use across a network of over 450 B2B publications. This information can be particularly useful at the account level to understand what topic or solution areas companies and some of the people who work for those companies are finding interesting. When you take all of these little snippets of information and match them back to individual contacts and accounts, you can create highly detailed—and highly useful—profile of each audience member.
4. Engage (or re-engage) your key contacts.
All of this information you have collected can be used to plan better sales and marketing strategies, identify higher opportunity accounts or contacts, and create more relevant content and effective customer experiences
In a Nutshell
When you use inference marketing, you can take the limited contact or account information you have and enhance it in ways that make those records more marketable and more productive. Using digital sources, you’re able to learn far more about your customer than what a typical content form can tell you, allowing you to market to them far more effectively. And you can do all of this without putting a deterring gate in front of the content you work so hard to create.